November 1, 2007

Troy CB could cause UGA problems

Much of the talk surrounding Troy University has been whether or not Trojan quarterback Omar Haugabook's creaky hamstring is going to allow him to play.

However, in the mind of Georgia coach Mark Richt, cornerback Leodis McKelvin might be every bit as valuable to Troy's cause.

Not only is McKelvin a top-notch cornerback with an NFL future, it's his ability as a dynamite punt returner that not only has pro scouts drooling, but college coaches like Richt scratching their heads as to exactly how to contain him.

So far, very few have.

McKelvin is the nation's top punt returner, averaging an amazing 21.18 yards on 17 returns and has scored three touchdowns, also tops in the country.

How will the Bulldogs try to slow him down? Even Richt isn't sure about that.

"That's a big question. Do you kick to a guy like that? You can try to kick it out of bounds, but when you do, you're liable to get a lot less yards on your punt. If you kick down the middle and shank it a little bit, even if you're off the mark a little bit, it might stay in play," Richt said. "If you angle it here and off the mark, you might have a 15-yard punt so that's a negative of that.

"You could just say we'll sail it high and let our guys be there and cover, but if you make a mistake there you give a guy too much space and he burns you. But those are the two things we're thinking about."

Oklahoma State certainly didn't have the right answer.

McKelvin burned the Cowboys with five returns for 136 yards, including one of 74 yards that he returned for a touchdown.

Against Florida International, McKelvin brought back a career-best 84-yarder for his sixth career score. He's won the Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week award a conference record six times.

"They're also very good at keeping your gunners away from the guy," Richt said. "They always try to make sure he has a little space when catching the ball."

Safety Johnson won't play

Richt said that strong safety Kelin Johnson will miss Saturday's game after banging up his knee last week against Florida.

He hopes the senior will be ready for next week's game with Auburn.

"From his perspective, I'm sure he's very optimistic," Richt said.

With Johnson out, redshirt freshman Reshad Jones will make his second career start. C.J Byrd will again open at free safety with Quintin Banks seeing considerable time as the top backup.

In other injury news, Richt said coaches are still taking a "wait-and-see" attitude on flanker Sean Bailey who has a partially torn meniscus in his left knee.

Richt added he still hopes that running back Thomas Brown (broken clavicle) will be ready to play against the Tigers.

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